What is the nature of not being able to properly identify the simanim when we have a wealth of scientific information about such things? If that were the case then it would be impossible to eat turkey beyond a doubt because according to the article the signs are presumably not enough!
Kashrus of the Peacock
November 27th, 2011 2
Is the peacock kosher?
Unlike mammals, the Torah does not specify signs to differentiate between kosher and non-kosher fowl. The Torah (Devarim 14:11-21) lists twenty-four types of forbidden fowl (eg. owl). All other fowl are assumed to be kosher (eg. chicken).
However, the Mishnah mentions four signs to identify non-kosher fowl (Chullin 3:6). Since we lack the experience to apply these rules (though the peacock appears to follow them), for all intents and purposes we are permitted to eat only those birds that we have a tradition regarding their being kosher (Rema, Yoreh De’ah 82:3; see also Shulchan Aruch 82:2).
Based on these principles, the Kenesses Hagedolah (Yoreh De’ah 82:31) writes that we cannot eat the peacock, because of a lack of clear tradition. Although he mentions early sources (including Rashi) that indicate the kashrut of the bird, he adds that because we don’t have a clear tradition, we cannot rely on our assumption that our peacock is the same bird.
Some poskim write that the peacock is a kosher fowl (see Tel Talpiot 16 (5667), p. 148-49, but see p. 164; Olam Hatushia p. 66-9), but this is only in the framework of a theoretical discussion, and not a halachic permit to actually eat the bird.
It is further noteworthy that in certain places, in particular Italy, there was clearly a tradition that the peacock is kosher (Pachad Yitzchak Vol. 6, p. 68; Zivchei Cohen, Livarno 1832, no. 7).
However, this tradition has not been continued, and in our days in Israel/America, the peacock will therefore not be eaten.
he idea here is that the 4 simanim for birds, 3 of them are easy to identify, as you write, that there is plenty of scientific information, because they are physical characteristics of the bird. The 4th one however is that it is not “dores” (a bird of prey). This siman depends on how the bird acts. This factor is very unclear to us, as the gemorah Chullin 62b relates that there was a bird called “tarnigolta d’akgma” lit. chicken of the swamp, that it was assumed that it is not dores, until chazal saw that it indeed was dores. Therefore Rashi (ibid) says that we do not eat any unknown type of bird unless we have a mesorah for it, and this is the Ashkenazi minhag, as the Rema brings in Yora Deah 82-3. The birds that we have a tradition for them that they not dores, those we know without any question that they are kosher, however birds that are new to us and we don’t have a tradition to them, are still in question, therefore Ashkenazim do not eat them.